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When To Replace Your Cedar Roof in Portland

Posted September 20, 2022 by Patrick Morin
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cedar shake roof portland

Cedar shake roofs are not only one of the most beautiful kinds of roofs, but they are also the most durable. If you use the right material, meaning 100% vertical-grain cedar shakes, your roof can maintain its integrity for 30 to 50 years! 

Unfortunately, not everyone installs 100% vertical-grain cedar shakes when they build a roof. Some contractors will use a mix of vertical and flat grain to save on cost or time. What seems like a good idea at the time can create big problems in a few years.

Whether you currently live in a home with a cedar shake roof or are considering purchasing one, it’s important to know how to take care of it. Keep track of these 5 warning signs so that you can fix your roof before you need a full roof replacement. 


Signs You Need a Cedar Shake Roof Replacement

Certain roof damage is considered an emergency and cannot wait to be repaired. If a storm punctures a hole in your roof or the wind displaces a patch of shingles, call someone who can help you immediately. Our expert technicians are on-call 24/7 to help you in an emergency situation. 

The benefit of cedar shake roofs is they can withstand winds exceeding 120 miles per hour. That means unless a tree or other large object hits your roof, your roof can withstand any Portland storm. However, accidents happen, especially if you don’t keep your roof maintained. These are signs to look out for in order to avoid costly repairs or a full roof replacement. 


The most common problem that Portland homeowners face when they have a damaged roof is leaks. If you know that your roof is aging or hasn’t had a scheduled maintenance check in recent years, you want to check your entire house for leaks after a big storm or heavy rains. Look for the obvious signs of water damage and any discolored plywood. That will give you an idea if water is leaking from your roof and where. 

Water damage from leaks can be particularly costly, so it’s important to do whatever you can from letting a leak in your roof form. Make a habit of checking your roof for signs of old or damaged cedar shakes on your roof to repair before they start leaking. In Portland, it’s important to be proactive, fixing leaks before the rainy season starts.


A natural part of the aging process for cedar shakes is to warp or distort from their shape. While some of this is normal, too much leads to curling (or cupping). If your cedar shakes start to curl too much, you risk exposing your home to leaks, especially if the underlayment beneath your shakes is exposed. At that point, you will likely need a full roof replacement

There is no way to prevent warping, as it happens when cedar is exposed to natural elements like heat and rain. However, with regular observation and maintenance checks, you can identify the shakes that are on the verge of cupping and have them replaced before any real damage is done to your roof or home. 

Split Shingles

Similarly, as cedar shake roofs are exposed to different weather patterns over time, the shakes may split. It is a process that happens gradually, but can also happen instantly during a storm. The cause of the split is important if you’re concerned about the cost of repairs. Some insurance will cover the costs if it happened during a storm. However, if the shakes split because of negligence, you’ll have a difficult time getting help from insurance to pay for repairs or roof replacements. 


Moss and rot are a problem specific to wood shake roofs. Because asphalt shingles, for example, aren’t made of organic material, they aren’t at risk of breaking down when exposed to cool, damp environments the way that a cedar shake is. Luckily, moss and rot are some of the easiest signs to spot. Unlike some split or curled cedar shakes, you’ll likely be able to see moss and rot from the ground.

Obviously, you want to look for green, fuzzy textures in the cracks between the cedar shakes on your roof. But also, look for frayed or split bottom edges of your shakes, especially near your gutters or on the trim of your roof. This is a favorite spot for moss and rot to start because it’s where most of the stormwater collects. 

Missing or Damaged Shingles

Finally, if you notice missing or damaged shingles, you definitely need to schedule an appointment to repair your cedar shake roof. If there are enough shakes missing, you might need to replace your roof entirely, so this is a problem you need to address as soon as possible to save yourself money (and stress). 

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Cedar Shake Roof? 

We recommend that you schedule a maintenance check on your cedar shake roof every 5 years. That’s the best way to ensure that none of these warning signs go unmanaged for long.  However, there are times where the damage is too great and you need to replace your cedar shake roof altogether. 

There is no standard cost for roof replacement services. We have to consider the size of your house, the materials needed and any access or safety factors. Typically, you can expect to pay around $1,280 per 100 square feet of cedar shake roof in Portland. That means if your roof is 3,000 square feet, a full cedar shake roof replacement could cost upwards of $38,400. 

You do have other options. Consider replacing the cedar shake roof with asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles last up to 50 years, but do not have the same risks of splitting, rotting or cupping. They also cost about half the price of cedar shakes. This is often the choice for many people when replacing a cedar shake roof.


What Is The Easiest Way to Fix Wood Shake Roof Problems?

If, after reading these signs, you’ve identified some problem areas on your roof, it’s best to talk to a professional roof repair service. We have been serving homes in Portland for over 30 years, so we can schedule a maintenance appointment quickly and provide an estimate for any repairs we may find. 

How do you know when you have too many repairs on a shake roof

When we walk your shake roof, we’re counting. A square of roofing is 10×10 feet and inside that square are 200 shakes. If over ten percent, or 20 shakes, have had repairs, we need to handle it. That might just mean putting metal shims under it and planning to replace it in a few years.

Now, if you have 20-30 percent, or 40-60 shakes, that have been repaired, that’s a whole different ballgame. That amount of repairs means you pulled shakes out, worked on them, replaced them, and put plenty of holes in that underlayment.

With that many repairs, the roof has been disturbed greatly, and it’s more than likely going to start to leak. Your shakes are protecting the paper that keeps water out of your home. When we see that high of a percentage of repairs, it’s a big clue that it’s probably time to replace your roof.

On homes that need repairs, after we are finished, we offer a no-leak warranty. If you find that your roof leaks, we will come and fix the damage with no extra charge to you. We offer this for two reasons: we believe in the quality and expertise of our team and we are dedicated to making roof maintenance as convenient as possible for Portland homeowners. 

Schedule Your Appointment Today

Now is the time to schedule an inspection on your cedar shake roof. It doesn’t matter if you live in Sherwood, Happy Valley, Gresham or anywhere in the surrounding Portland area, call us today to book an appointment that is convenient for you. Don’t let another day go by where you risk serious damage to your roof. 

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